Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry’s son Rod has chimed in on the gay Sulu controversy, and says he understands why George Takei is upset, CBS News reports.
“In a way, it’s George’s character,” Roddenberry said. “I can understand why he feels strongly about it. I don’t see why everyone is bickering about it. It’s about (expletive) time. Let’s just do it.”
As for what his father might have thought:
“I think he would be 100 percent in favor of a gay character in ‘Star Trek,” said Roddenberry…”There’s so much going on in the world today. I think he would love any sort of social issue being brought into ‘Star Trek.'”
After news emerged last week of the character’s development in that direction, George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu in the original series, called it a “really unfortunate” turn of events.
Takei told The Hollywood Reporter that he had tried to convince Pegg and director Justin Lin that it was a bad idea.
“I told him, ‘Be imaginative and create a character who has a history of being gay, rather than Sulu, who had been straight all this time, suddenly being revealed as being closeted,” said Takei.
Takei’s statements caused immediate reaction from screenwriter Simon Pegg, who also plays Scotty, who said he “respectfully disagreed” with Takei, and Zachary Quinto, who plays Spock, who said he was “disappointed” by Takei’s reaction.
Pegg expressed sympathy with Takei’s sentiment that mainstream gay heroes were belatedly coming to the big screen, but rejected the idea that this meant a new character needed creating.
“He’s right, it is unfortunate, it’s unfortunate that the screen version of the most inclusive, tolerant universe in science fiction hasn’t featured an LGBT character until now. We could have introduced a new gay character, but he or she would have been primarily defined by their sexuality, seen as the ‘gay character’, rather than simply for who they are, and isn’t that tokenism?”
Pegg continued: “Justin Lin, Doug Jung and I loved the idea of it being someone we already knew because the audience have a pre-existing opinion of that character as a human being, unaffected by any prejudice. Their sexual orientation is just one of many personal aspects, not the defining characteristic. Also, the audience would infer that there has been an LGBT presence in the Trek Universe from the beginning (at least in the Kelvin timeline), that a gay hero isn’t something new or strange. It’s also important to note that at no point do we suggest that our Sulu was ever closeted, why would he need to be? It’s just hasn’t come up before.”
Added Pegg: “The viewing audience weren’t open minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have. Roddenberry was a visionary and a pioneer but we choose our battles carefully.”